TMC congratulates one of our TV dancers for selection as a Mayo Clinic’s WomenHeart Champion

At some point it was scary, but the first feeling Susan Smith remembers having when she was told she was having a heart attack was anger at the inconvenience of it all.

“I was in the middle of a late life career path – teaching writing, publishing a book, running a writers group, and going to twelve networking meetings a month,” Smith recalled. “My to-do list was a mile long, and I liked my busy lifestyle.”

Her heart attack was a wake-up call – and one she shared as a WomenHeart Champion at the 2018 WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at the Mayo Clinic in early October.

The four-day symposium, which selected 50 women from 18 states, was designed to prepare the participants to be advocates for women’s heart health in their communities – providing support and education about heart disease, the number one killer of women.

Smith said she has now realized her “busyness” was stressing her system.

“I was so intent on taking care of everyone else, I put my own self-care at the bottom of the list.”

After four days in the hospital, she left not just with two stents, but a new attitude, she said. “Now I follow doctor’s orders; eating right, exercising, six medications, and no stress. That means people see a “new me” practicing self-care and moving through the day at a stroll instead of a sprint.”

She also walked away from the symposium with a new perspective. “I was amazed to meet so many young heart sisters at the training. More women in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s are experiencing heart disease.  That’s why it’s more important than ever we educate women and raise awareness.”

Good luck on your journey, Susan, and we’re proud of your work in helping others!

TMC presented with award, recognition for achievements in stroke treatment

BDP49509Tucson Medical Center routinely achieves critical treatment timelines for patients that give them the best outcomes after heart attack or stroke.

“On behalf of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, I thank you for your commitment,” said Ron Loomis, Jr., the senior regional director for quality and systems improvement for the associations, in presenting an award to the TMC team.

TMC earned the Get with the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award by meeting specific quality metrics for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke within a designated period that are scientifically proven to reduce death and disability for stroke patients.

TMC additionally received the Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll award, which reduces time between when a patient suffering from ischemic stroke arrives at the hospital and when treatment starts with a clot-busting drug. Ischemic strokes occur when the arteries to the brain narrow or become blocked, reducing blood flow. We are the only hospital in Southern Arizona with this top level designation.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of disability. “Research has shown that hospitals adhering to these evidence-based guidelines often see improved outcomes and fewer readmissions,” Loomis said.

BDP49513Dr. David Teeple, the medical director for TMC’s stroke program, said the program has been growing in effectiveness for the last 10 years, to the point that TMC has for many years been recognized for putting proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis.

“It’s ingrained in what we do here now,” he told the team, “but don’t underestimate the hard work you all do to achieve these guidelines. I’m incredibly grateful and our patients are incredibly grateful.”

Triple bypass leads to a new approach on life

Sergio.jpgHelping our community right here in Tucson get and stay healthy and keep on dancing is what Tucson Medical Center is all about. We’re showing off some of our fabulous community members in our latest commercials and you get to find out a little more about them here on our blog. Meet TMC dancer, Sergio Gonzales

Sergio Gonzales was working out with his wife last July when he felt an unmistakable feeling.

“I felt the same symptoms I’d felt the previous year, when I had a heart attack while on vacation in Witchita, Kansas,” he recalled. When the feeling didn’t pass in a few minutes, he called 911 and a helicopter evacuated him for treatment. Only in his mid-40s, he would end up having a triple bypass.

“The care at TMC was outstanding. I will always remember being wheeled in and seeing the worried eyes of my doctor, the nurses and my family, but they immediately helped put me at ease and made me feel better about the situation,” said Sergio, a University of Arizona graduate who works in the defense industry and is a college sports referee on the side.  His wife, Deanna, a Tucson native, agreed. “It was a struggle every day, but the nurses were great and his cardiac team helped get him home quickly.”

Sergio, who participated in cardiac rehabilitation to rebuild his strength, said the heart attack forced him to make some big changes.

Cardiac rehabilitation link

 

“Before my first heart attack, I was invincible,” he said, even though his father had his first heart attack in his 50s. He takes his health more seriously – and shares his concerns with his son, too, to take note of his genetic predispositions to heart disease, even though he is only 21.

“I’ve really been utilizing this time to reconnect with my family and to enjoy life a little more,” he said, adding he enjoys concerts and has taken more vacations of late than he has in the previous five years combined. “I’ve also been trying to learn more about my physical and mental abilities. I push myself harder to learn more and to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Stroke, heart surgery came “out of nowhere” for 31-year-old

Clayton.jpgHelping our community right here in Tucson get and stay healthy and keep on dancing is what Tucson Medical Center is all about. We’re showing off some of our fabulous community members in our latest commercials and you get to find out a little more about them here on our blog. Meet TMC dancer, Clayton Green.

The rheumatic fever Clayton Green contracted as a child had greater significance than anyone realized at the time.

As his body fought off the infection, his heart valves were damaged in the process.

As he grew up, Green was careful to stay fit and eat right – he was a vegetarian for years and committed to an active lifestyle.

But one evening with his friends, the student and part-time bartender started feeling worse and worse, and when it became obvious he was having a stroke related to the heart disease, he was rushed to Tucson Medical Center.

His heart surgeon, Kushagra Katariya, identified other irregularities in his heart and corrected those as well.

“The stress of it was the worst. I had never been sick before and had been using preventive nutritional care and exercise so this wouldn’t happen. But the care was amazing from the nurses to the doctors and technicians, everyone there was courteous and made you feel at home, which helps when you’re in a situation that is very difficult,” he said.

Green was up and walking the day after surgery and four months afterward, was dancing in a TMC commercial.

Anyone can have a stroke, even children although the causes in children tend to be different. The elderly are not the only ones at risk for stroke although age is one factor. Stroke risk also increases with factors like increased blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation. Know the symptoms of a stroke. Early recognition and treatment makes all the difference.

 

Stroke Prevention Saturday – serving the community, saving lives

After experiencing a heart attack, two strokes and a ministroke, Mr. Kissel wasn’t taking any chances with his health.

“In 2013 I was visiting my doctors regularly and I was doing everything I could to prevent another stroke,” said Kissel. “When my wife and I heard about TMC’s free Stroke Preventions Saturday – we knew right away we’d be going.”

stroke awareness

Each year, Tucson Medical Center hosts Stroke Prevention Saturday, a local event providing free vascular screenings. The wide-breadth of tests involve many medical professionals and advanced diagnostic equipment.

Why has TMC invested in providing free events like Stroke Saturday

“Because stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability,” said Renee McAloney, the TMC stroke program coordinator. “It is uplifting to know we are assisting community members who may not have access to these important screenings – I believe we are saving lives.”

From checking cholesterol and oxygen saturation to an electrocardiogram and a carotid doppler ultrasound, attendees have the opportunity to discuss results with a health care provider.

The screening that revealed a life-threatening issue

Carotid doppler ultrasound screening provided at the 2013 Stroke Prevention Saturday revealed Mr. Kissel’s carotid artery (the blood vessel delivering blood to the brain) was more than 50 percent blocked by plaque.

Kissel took the reading to his doctors. “I was referred to a vascular surgeon who said I needed to have surgery right away to clear the blockage.”

After the surgery, Mr. Kissel learned just how serious the situation was. “The doctor told me the soft plague in my carotid artery was dangling and could have broken off at any moment and caused a massive stroke.”

Since that procedure, Mr. Kissel has not experienced another stroke or ministroke. “The Stroke Prevention Saturday screening led to my surgery, and I’m grateful,” he said.

Make screening part of your annual care

The event is a now part of the annual routine in the Kissel household. “It takes place every spring in the March to April time frame, and I make sure my wife goes every year to get checked.”

Mr. Kissel feels healthier, strong and better these days and he says Stroke Prevention Saturday made a difference. “I’m not sure what might have happened without that screening.”

For more information about Stroke Prevention Saturday, contact TMC for Seniors at (520) 324-4345 or seniorservices@tmcaz.com

Know your stroke risk

Anyone can have a stroke, even children although the causes in children tend to be different. The elderly are not the only ones at risk for stroke although age is one factor. Stroke risk also increases with factors like increased blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation. Know those factors you can control for. This guide from the American Stroke Association highlights factors you need to be aware of.

 

Sign up to receive the TMC for Seniors event calendar  which include events like Stroke Prevention Saturday.

An Emergency Room Visit: A Patient’s View

Emergency DepartmentNothing is more frustrating that sitting in the emergency room feeling terrible and watching someone who looks perfectly fine walk in and walk straight through to triage and be taken back. Right?

I recently got to be that person skipping the waiting room, moving straight past go to immediate help.

I felt fine, well except for the piercing headache behind my left ear that had been there for three days, but that hadn’t brought me into the emergency room. What brought me in was when one side of my face began to droop.

It was quite odd. At first it was just that my eyes didn’t look the same as usual. One seemed bigger than the other and then my face started to seem flat on one side.

Signs of a stroke

I recognized the drooping face as a possible symptom of a stroke and after I called my husband and dropped off the kids with some friends, I had a friend take me to the emergency room. Not my brightest moment. After all, if this was a stroke I was wasting precious brain time, but at least I didn’t drive myself! I couldn’t possibly be having a stroke – could I? After all my mum was 70 when she had her stroke. I was just 48 years old – a spring chicken. While I am definitely overweight, I didn’t have other risk factors.

I raced up to the front desk in the emergency room and began to explain my concerns. By this point my mouth was beginning to droop, too. The nurse took one look at me and whisked me back.

I’m sure to those left in the waiting room this seemed massively unfair. After all, there I was, able to walk, apparently in not significant distress, no bleeding or obvious trauma (they couldn’t see my face) and I was going to be seen before everyone else waiting.

Within a couple of minutes members of the rapid response stroke team were evaluating me for a stroke, bloodwork was being taken, and my situation was being evaluated. After the initial evaluation they were pretty sure I wasn’t having a stroke, but it wasn’t clear what was going on and something was definitely going on. Most of the possible scenarios and options were pretty awful. Center for Neurosciences nurse practitioner Frances West and neurologist Dr. David Teeple kept me calm and informed and made the decision to keep me at the hospital for observation.

The following day, after ruling out a possible reemergence of an earlier melanoma, the pieces began to fall into place. I had Bell’s palsy.

Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy affects about 30,000 to 40,000 people every year in the United States. It results in the paralysis or weakness of one side of the face as a result of damage to the facial nerve. The cause of Bell’s palsy isn’t known, but generally the weakness or paralysis is thought to be due to swelling of the nerve in the area where it travels through the bones of the skull. For many, symptoms often begin to improve right away, but it may take weeks or even months for the muscles to get stronger. For some people symptoms may never completely disappear.

Six months out, my face is still lopsided. I can’t drink straight from a bottle, and talking at length can be tiring and embarrassing as I drool when my mouth tires. However, I can blink and smile. My facial paralysis isn’t quite as obvious as it was previously.

Bell’s palsy is not pleasant, but as my ability to parent, work, live and be an active member of my community is not impacted by my looks, I’ll take this slightly lopsided smile over the other possibilities like stroke or brain tumor.

I am grateful to know that if it had been a stroke, the TMC Rapid Response Stroke Team was ready to act, and the front desk staff prepared to recognize and move on a possible stroke case. And next time I’m in the waiting room of an emergency room … I’ll be a tad more patient as a new arrival is whisked back before me even if they don’t look sick.

While Tucson boasts a half-dozen stroke centers, TMC is the city’s only primary stroke center that has 24/7 coverage by board certified interventional neuroradiologists along with a neurology and neurosurgery stroke team.

Rachel Miller is a Communications Specialist at TMC.  She has decided since developing Bell’s palsy that everyday should be pirate day. (Individuals affected by Bell’s palsy are often unable to close or blink the eye on the affected side. A patch protects the eye from the everyday dust. Here Rachel takes advantage to play pirate.)

Deep Vein Thrombosis: What You Need to Know about DVT

Deep vein thrombosisIf you’ve spent much time flying you’ve probably heard suggestions to avoid developing deep vein thrombosis, “Get up! Walk around. Do some squats.” But what is deep vein thrombosis? If you never fly do you have nothing to worry about? And how do we test and treat DVT?

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in a deep vein in the body, usually in the legs.

Think of a blood clot as a traffic jam: the torrent of vehicles trying to get out of the area make it nearly impossible for other cars to come in. The blood clot usually forms on the valves of a deep vein and creates an obstruction to the outflow of blood. This creates swelling, redness and pain.

“Deep venous thrombosis is a serious condition that needs immediate attention,” said Dr. Layla Lucas, a vascular surgeon and endovascular specialist at Saguaro Surgical.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, as many as 900,000 Americans are diagnosed with DVT annually.

Risk factors for DVT

Although blood clots have an increased prevalence with age, many assume clots only happen to older adults. However, the challenges can appear across the age spectrum from teens to seniors.

At some point in our lives, we have all been at risk of developing a DVT or subsequent pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism most commonly results from a blood clot that migrates through the heart into the arteries of the lung.  It can be life-threatening if untreated.

The Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education cites PE as the third most common cardiovascular illness after acute coronary syndrome and stroke.

It is important to recognize these risks in order to prevent this risk of DVT:

  • Frequent travel (long flights or car rides)
  • People who are immobilized
  • Major surgery or trauma
  • Past history of DVT
  • Pregnancy
  • Women taking oral birth-control
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune disorders such as lupus

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of DVT can range from:

  • Minor pain and swelling to significantly swollen legs and arms
  • Changes in skin color (redness)
  • Leg pain
  • Leg swelling (edema)
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch

If the blood clot breaks off and moves through the bloodstream it can get stuck in the blood vessels of the lungs to form a pulmonary embolism.

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Light headedness
  • Sudden shortness of breath

How will your doctor test for DVT?

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and

  1. A blood test called a D-dimer is a fast way to test for evidence of a blood clot.
  2. Duplex ultrasound. TMC uses duplex ultrasound imaging to evaluate for DVT. Duplex ultrasound combines both traditional and Doppler ultrasound. The Doppler ultrasound creates a picture of the venous blood flow and can identify which vein the clot has developed in and how extensive it is.

What to expect when having a duplex ultrasound exam?

PE is best diagnosed with a CT scan of the chest. Certain high-risk patients may get another test called a V/Q scan.

How we treat DVT and PE

With a problem this prevalent, TMC has developed one of the busiest programs in the nation for minimally invasive DVT and PE interventions.

DVT is easier to treat the earlier it is caught. Patients are started on blood thinners right away. If the DVT is extensive and the symptoms are severe, they’re evaluated for intervention and clot removal.

DVT can typically be fixed during one or two treatments.

Dr. Lucas explained the treatment advancements are put to best use. “As vascular surgeons, we see the consequences of untreated DVT and PE and therefore are aggressive in our management of these conditions.”

To find out more about vascular exams and procedures at TMC please visit our website.

Dr. Layla Lucas

Dr. Layla Lucas of Saguaro Surgical is board-certified in General Surgery and Vascular/ Endovascular Surgery. Dr. Lucas has a special interest in wound healing, limb salvage, stroke prevention and treatment of aneurysmal disease. She has been trained in a wide variety of minimally invasive endovascular techniques, as well as traditional open procedures in order to treat the full spectrum of vascular diseases.

Three reasons to have a vascular screening

3 reasons to have a vascular screeningMeet Ashley Marcolin, registered vascular technologist at TMC and one of six RVTs that perform vascular screening exams at TMC. Ashley is the newest addition to the team, but manager Sarah Yeager reports Ashley reflects the kindness, compassion and empathy typical of the whole team.

“When people come in for a vascular exam they’re often very nervous. Whether they’re in the hospital for a vascular-related concern or a vascular wellness screening, I want them to know that they can relax, this is a very non-invasive test. We use no radiation, no dyes, no needles, and it takes just 30 minutes.” Ashley said. “This really is a very simple way to catch serious conditions early before they become life-threatening. The screening can save a life, and it takes very little time.”

While Ashley is a new member of the team, she has a lot of experience with performing exams of this kind. In her training, she had to complete 960 clinical hours using the techniques she now uses every day. We calculated how many exams she has performed since she started at TMC, where she also completed her clinical training. It runs into the thousands. “You know when you come to TMC that your technologist is a registered vascular technologist and has undergone a two-year intensive or four-year course before they can even take the certification exams,” Sarah explained.

What is involved in a vascular wellness screening?

We do three separate tests that together take about 30 minutes. You need to fast for four hours beforehand and wear loose-fitting clothing that allows easy access to the abdomen, neck, legs and arms. You do not need a doctor’s referral to schedule an appointment, but we will need the name of your primary care physician to send the results.

Ankle-Brachial Index

We use ultrasound scans along with blood pressure cuffs on the ankles and arms to screen for blockages or signs of disease in the arteries of the limbs. For this exam, you need to take your shoes and socks off. This is a screening for peripheral artery disease. PAD is a very common condition, especially in people over the age of 50. PAD can cause chronic leg pain when you’re walking or performing other exercises.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

This screening uses ultrasound scans looking for a ballooning of the wall of the abdominal aorta. If this ballooning or aneurysm ruptures it can be fatal. For this screening, you lie on your back while an RVT places the ultrasound transducer on several areas of your abdomen. The transducer has a bit of warm gel on the end. The gel helps us get clearer pictures and will not hurt your skin. You may feel slight pressure from the transducer as it moves along your body.

Carotid Artery Duplex Evaluation

Using an instrument called a transducer, the RVT scans the carotid artery in your neck to check the flow of blood, which informs us of plaque and blockages that put you at risk for an ischemic stroke.

Should you get a vascular screening?

Sarah and Ashley suggest that everyone over the age of 50 with any of the below listed risk factors get a vascular screening, and that any additional testing or screenings should be repeated at your physician’s direction.

find a doctor in Tucson

You may also be at increased risk of arterial vascular disease if you have one of the following:

  • Have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Smoke or have a history of smoking
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure
  • Have coronary artery disease

When will I get the results?

Our exams are read in house by a vascular surgeon and the results sent to you within 3-5 days.

Three reasons to have a vascular screening:

  1. It’s quick, easy and painless
  2. It’s affordable
  3. It can help prevent stroke and detect abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral artery disease

Call (520) 348-2028 to schedule your vascular screening.

vascular screening special

Comprehensive Weight-Loss Program now available at TMC

TMC Weight Loss Program 3Super foods – juice cleansing – metabolism kick starters – core workouts. Weight-loss is very challenging and the dizzying number of diets, fads and exercises can make it even harder. Tucson Medical Center’s Comprehensive Weight-Loss Program offers safe and effective plans that are personalized to meet each patient’s needs.

These days, busy lifestyles are common– stretching schedules for career, family, activities and so much more. With only so many hours in a day, it’s hard to make time for health and easy to put on pounds fast. More than 70 percent of American adults are overweight and we understand that everyone faces unique challenges to achieving a weight loss goal.

TMC Wellness Director Mary Atkinson explains how the TMC Weight-Loss Program is different. “We look at the whole person,” she said. “Registered dietitians and certified exercise-professionals will work with you to create a personalized plan you can live with, so you can lose weight and keep it off.”

Weight-Loss Counseling Program The 12-week program includes three, one-hour initial appointments and eight follow-ups that last about 30 minutes. Periodic assessments help determine what is working best and allow you and your team to make adjustments to keep

  • Nutrition, fitness and general wellness assessments
  • Reliable advice that you can use
  • Tracking of weight and estimated body composition
  • Development of personalized nutrition and fitness plans
  • Strategies to promote long-term weight-loss success

Weight-Loss Surgery from the TMC Bariatric Center

The TMC Bariatric Center, a comprehensive center accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, guides you every step of the way on your weight-loss journey:

  • Pre-surgery counseling and evaluations
  • Post-op care that includes nutritional counseling
  • Psychological support
  • Instruction on incorporating exercises into your lifestyle
  • Discussion groups – build relationships with others who have had bariatric surgery at TMC
  • Some services may be covered by insurance.

TMC Weight Loss Program 4Weight Management Support Group

No matter what method you have used to lose weight, sticking to your new good habits and keeping the weight off can be a challenge. Don’t try to tackle it alone. Join our monthly support group, led by a certified health coach, to learn new tips and stay motivated.

Program Pricing

  • Flat fee for the entire program: $400
  • Weekly rate: $60 for one-hour sessions, $30 for 30-minute sessions (total of $480 for entire program)
  • Weight management support group = $5 per meeting (meets monthly at The Core at La Encantada)

For more details, please contact TMC Wellness, (520) 324-4163 or wellness@tmcaz.com.

TMC celebrates 200 TAVR procedures – Tucson visitor thankful for life-saving technique

Furman 2Pennsylvania residents Frank and Jan Furman travel to Tucson every winter. This year, the couple was also visiting to attend an award ceremony for their daughter.

While in Tucson, a cardiac emergency put Frank Furman’s life in jeopardy. Thanks to a minimally invasive heart procedure known as TAVR, Furman has a new lease on life and was able to attend his daughter’s ceremony only a few days after the procedure.

Tucson Medical Center is celebrating the completion of 200 TAVR heart procedures. TAVR stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, a technique used to replace the aortic heart valve with less scarring, pain and recovery time than traditional open-chest surgery.

Furman had been experiencing some heart challenges, but received the OK to travel. Still, Jan worried for her husband as they made their way from Erie, Pennsylvania to Tucson. “He’s such a trooper and never complains, but I could tell he was more winded than usual.”

TMC Cardiovascular CenterThe couple enjoys southwest culture, and visited one of their favorite Tucson spots. “I couldn’t miss the Sons of the Pioneers show at Old Tucson Studios,” Furman said with a smile. But it was during the performance that things took a turn. Furman became so faint and winded after walking just 15 feet that he had to stop to catch his breath. The frightening experience motivated him to seek a cardiologist at Tucson Medical Center.

The structural heart team at TMC completed a number of advanced diagnostics and determined Furman’s aortic valve needed to be replaced immediately. While his family was concerned for his health, Furman had something else on his mind. “My daughter’s award ceremony was five days away – she’s worked so hard and I didn’t want to miss it,” Furman said.

waggonerThe close-knit family received some relief when Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Thomas Waggoner explained Furman was a strong candidate for TAVR.

With TAVR, an interventional cardiologist (or surgeon) guides the new heart valve through a catheter inserted in the upper thigh. The cardiologist then maneuvers into the heart and expands the new valve over the damaged valve, effectively replacing it with a tight seal.

The minimally-invasive procedure is an effective option for patients who are an intermediate/high surgery risk. In addition, patients experience minimal discomfort and a three-day average hospital stay – with patients returning to their normal activity after discharge.

“I felt better almost instantly,” Furman said. “The next day I was walking so fast that the physical therapist told me to slow down.”

Two days later, Furman left the hospital feeling great. “He looked so good! His face was full of color again and he had no trouble getting around,” said Furman’s wife, Jan. As for pain, “He didn’t even fill the prescription for pain meds,” she said happily.

Frank Furman’s life has changed; he’s no longer winded, has a strong prognosis and looks forward to rounding up the golf clubs again. “It’s the best thing that happened,” his wife of 57 years said.

TAVR Frank FurmanFurman wasn’t shy about sharing what he thought the greatest advantage of TAVR was. “I recovered fast enough to see my daughter Cheryl receive the Most Inspirational Mentor of the Year award; it was fantastic.”

TAVR is one of many procedures performed through TMC’s structural heart program, featuring advanced technologies, a specially-trained staff and a team of physicians who work with patients to evaluate and determine the best treatment plan.

The Furman family will soon be returning to Pennsylvania, where a new schedule for the patriarch includes walking, golf, cardiac rehabilitation and maybe a little more golf. When asked what he’d say to patients who are candidates for TAVR, Furman didn’t mince any words. “Go do it!”

Stroke Prevention Saturday April 15 at TMC

Are you at risk for a stroke? Join TMC and HealthSouth Rehabilitation Institute of Tucson for the annual free Stroke Prevention Saturday, April 15, 7 a.m. to noon at TMC Marshall Conference Center.

Free testing for:

  • Height, weight and body mass index
  • Blood pressure and oxygen saturation
  • Glucose and cholesterol measurements
  • Carotid Doppler ultrasound to look for blockages or narrowing
  • Electrocardiogram

A physician will review your results with you.

The screening is recommended for those 50 years and older. For best results, an eight-hour fast is recommended.

In addition, to learning about their risk for stroke, participants will also receive information on recognizing the signs of a stroke and how to control risk facts and the signs of a stroke.

No appointment necessary. Please allow 45 minutes for screening.

Light snacks will be available.

Click for a flier with map and, also, a Spanish-language version.

Second chance at life means racking up the running miles

Gary Brauchla will be the first to tell you he’s no fan of running.

When he went into cardiac arrest in the wee hours of the morning in September 2012, he had never run a 5k.

After his second chance at life, Brauchla tackled his first, a feat he calls “Death to 5k in 8 months.”

Now 72, he has been a member of Southern Arizona Roadrunners for 4 years and has chalked up 15 5ks to his name including three TMC-sponsored Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crowns.

He also signed up for the Under Armour “You Vs Year” 1000k challenge last year – and ended up surpassing his goal with 1,218 kilometers – the equivalent of 755 miles.

With each step, he’s been waiting to get to that runner’s high kind of zone. Hasn’t happened. “I don’t particularly like running. To me, it’s a chore. But I do it because I like the challenge and I like to sweat.” he said.

And, truth to be told, so he can eat some of the things he’s rather fond of, like the occasional cheeseburger and fries.

Brauchla’s story began when he went into cardiac arrest as he slept in his rural home about 90 miles from Tucson.

Earlier that evening, he had complained of pain in his right shoulder and excessive belching, but shrugged it off. Maybe it was the chili with beans talking.

About 3 a.m., his wife, Kathie, awoke to a loud snort, which she assumed then was snoring but later would realize it was her husband’s last gasp. She nudged him. Nothing. Nudged him again. Nothing. Pushed harder a third time. No response. “Then it all clicked together what was going on,” she recalled. “I flipped the light on and he was not breathing.”

Kathie knew to start CPR immediately, called 911 and sustained the chest compressions until help arrived. A defibrillator restored his heart rhythm.

Brauchla was flown by helicopter to Tucson Medical Center, where doctors induced a coma, put in some coronary stents to reopen blocked arteries and cooled his body temperature through therapeutic hypothermia in order to reduce the brain’s oxygen requirements and reduce the chance of brain injury.

He would remain in a coma for 2.5 weeks, while loved ones wondered about the degree of brain damage he may have sustained. Instead, he had a full recovery.

“By doing everything TMC did, I am still here physically and mentally,” Brauchla said.

When it comes to running, he’s not particularly fast. But for him, it’s enough. Five miles is five miles, plodding or no.

“People need to know they don’t need to give up just because they’ve had some kind of health problem,” Brauchla said. “How many people out there are thinking they will never be strong again, but I’m living proof. It’s not necessarily so.”

Physician achieves ablation milestone at TMC

Tucson Medical Center congratulates Dr. Darren Peress on a significant achievement: He has now performed 1,000 stereotactic ablations. The milestone is an accomplishment for Dr. Peress, Tucson Medical Center and patients challenged by an irregular heartbeat.

Dr. Peress is a specialist in cardiac electrophysiology, the study and treatment of the heart’s electrical activity. Put simply, a cardiac electrophysiologist helps when the heartbeat is out of rhythm.

peress-afibAn irregular heartbeat, also called an arrhythmia, can create premature or extra heartbeats, causing palpitations, a “fluttering” feeling in the chest. There are many different types of arrhythmias, ranging from mild to severe.

Serious arrhythmias can also cause chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, stroke or sudden death. The conditions significantly burden a person’s quality-of-life, leaving them with an anxious sense of uncertainty.

To witness him in action is to see careful focus and quiet determination. As Dr. Peress finished the procedure, his colleagues and nurses complimented his work ethic, talent and person. Some singled out his precision and teamwork. Another stressed his commitment to patient care.

Cardiac-electrophysiology procedures are unique because of the skill required, the technology used and the dramatic difference they make in a patient’s quality of life.

“It’s a quickly evolving field,” said Dr. Peress. “It’s impressive how far technology has come. Today, we’re helping patients that had few, if any, options just 15 years ago.”

The soft-spoken physician explained the various ways arrhythmias are treated, noting that procedures have quickly progressed from addressing minor conditions to tackling more complex arrhythmias.

The procedures are interventional (meaning they involve access inside the body) and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours, depending on the health challenges and needs of each patient.

Most patients are able to head home the same day, and many see dramatic results immediately – able to engage in normal activity without the possibility of vertigo, difficulty breathing and serious heart problems.

peress-steretactic-ablationIt is clear that developing technologies in operation and imaging are the essential elements pushing cardiac-electrophysiology forward. Dr. Peress said he is especially pleased to see efficacy rates increasing as technology advances.

The Stereotaxis equipment is a leading technology that provides very detailed information to the doctor in real time,” Peress said. “Movement and placement can be done more safely and accurately – making it possible to treat certain types of arrhythmias that were extremely challenging before.”

Technology makes a difference, and it is not available everywhere. “TMC is the only hospital in Arizona featuring the Stereotaxis equipment – one of the many reasons I perform my procedures at TMC,” the doctor explained.

When time allows, the busy doctor enjoys traveling with his family. His easy-going nature brought friendly laughter and smiles as he described a recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.

After reaching the benchmark of helping 1,000 patients, Dr. Peress was asked what his next goal is. His answer: “A thousand more!”

A chance to meet with Dr. Peress

If you are one of the millions of people struggling with Atrial Fibrillation you can meet Dr. Peress for an interactive presentation highlighting the revolutionary technologies available at TMC for treatment and lifestyle changes for prevention 2pm Sunday, February 12th at The Core.

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Dr. Darren Peress is a cardiac electrophysiologist who practices at Pima Heart and completes procedures at Tucson Medical Center.

UA baseball coach sends a shout-out to TMC surgical team

An updated story in the online Tucson Citizen Sports Section includes good news from popular Wildcat baseball coach Andy Lopez.  Thanks, Coach, and continue a speedy recovery! 

Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez recovering well from heart surgery

by Anthony Gimino on Oct. 16, 2013

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Andy Lopez will be back at Hi Corbett in time for preseason practice.

Photo by Anthony Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com

Arizona Wildcats baseball coach Andy Lopez, following quadruple bypass surgery on Oct. 7, is expected to return to coaching duties when the team begins preseason practice on Jan. 15.

“All of my doctors have assured me that the surgery went very well and I will fully return to coaching,” Lopez said in a statement released by the athletic department Wednesday.

“With the doctors’ advice, I will take the rest of our fall practice season off and resume all of my normal coaching duties when we begin preseason practices.”

Lopez, whose surgery was originally intended as a triple bypass, returned home Friday after being released from Tucson Medical Center.

“I cannot thank the entire medical team at Tucson Medical Center enough for their care and support through this process,” Lopez said. “I am grateful of the tremendous team effort by everyone involved.

“My primary physician, Dr. Jeffrey Selwyn, got the ball rolling, and I received unbelievable treatment from my cardiologist, Dr. Salvatore Torrito, and my heart surgeon, Dr. Raj Bose. Each of them has said I will be raring to go in January.”

The Wildcats began fall practice last week, with assistant coaches Shaun Cole and Matt Siegel leading the team in Lopez’s absence.

Lopez will be entering his 13th season at Arizona with a record of 437-267-1, highlighted by winning the 2012 College World Series.

 

 

Varicose Vein Disease

Dr. Luis Leon
Agave Surgical

Dr. Luis Leon from Agave Surgical spoke about state-of-the-art management of varicose vein disease to physicians, nurses and ultrasound technologists.  While this disease is fairly common, it’s seen more frequently in older women, and tends to be hereditary.  Other risk factors include obesity, oral contraceptives, multiple pregnancies, and constipation.

Varicose vein disease ranges from mild spider veins to bulging, painful veins to severe ulcers that are slow to heal.  Dr. Leon says patients often try one unsuccessful fix after another, only to end up at the surgeon’s office with advanced stages of venous disease.  “I think a lot of people attribute their leg aches and pains to getting older, but simple aging doesn’t explain leg pain.  These people are unaware that they’re suffering from venous disease.  Their problem can be fixed, and their life can be very different.”

That fix includes a simple office-based procedure that requires only local anesthesia.  A radio-frequency ablation can be done during a patient’s lunch hour.  Dr. Leon says, “ It was interesting to see the reaction of health care providers when they heard about the new way to treat this problem.  The old way to treat this required anesthesia and an operation in the hospital.  They were very surprised to hear that we can fix this problem in the office in about ten minutes.”  He stresses the need for more awareness and education about this to general practitioners, other healthcare providers, and the public.

 

Seven Simple Steps to Reducing Stroke Risk

Seven simple steps could dramatically pare down your risk of stroke.

Tucson Medical Center promotes Life’s Simple 7, by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

“They’re really very manageable,” said Molly Griffis, the stroke program coordinator for Tucson Medical Center. “I think if people make the commitment day by day, they are achievable. But to get started, they have to be aware of them and then make them part of their regular, everyday routine.”

Here’s a look at the seven:

1)  Don’t smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products. “I think people know the correlation between lung disease and smoking, but it is also the strongest risk factor for heart attack and stroke if coupled with hypertension,” Griffis said.

2)  Keep a healthy body weight. Keeping a body mass index less than 25 kg/m is a good aim, Griffis said, “but the main idea here is to eat well and keep moving.”

3)  Get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes or vigorous-intensity activity (or a combination) each week. “It can be as simple as working in 30 minutes of exercise on most days,” Griffis said. “Do some yoga, go swimming, take a bike ride, go on a hike, – whatever makes you happy. You don’t have to run a marathon or do the Tour de Tucson.”

4)  Eat a healthy diet consistent with current recommendations from the American Heart Association. “Shoppers should try to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store, and look for a variety of colors through fruits and vegetables, while picking up items such as fish and fiber-rich foods,” Griffis said. “Shop moderately from the inner aisles where the processed, canned, and packaged foods are since they typically contain extra sodium, fat, and sugar.”

5)  Keep total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dl, or LDL less than 100 mg/dl.

6)  Keep blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg. “uncontrolled High blood pressure is the strongest risk factor for both Ischemic and Hemorrhagic Strokes” Griffis said.

7)  Keep fasting blood glucose less than 100 mg/dl.  Diabetics have a 2-4 x higher risk of heart attack and stroke, so managing the illness is extremely important, Griffis said.

Medications that might be appropriate to consider:

  • Anti-platelet medicines, including Aspirin, keep platelets in the blood from sticking together and forming clots. Plavix and Aggrenox are also options.
  • Anti-clotting drugs, such as Warfarin, Pradaxa, and Xarelto may be needed to help ward off stroke in some patients, particularly those at high risk of clots with a medical history including Atrial Fibrillatin, Atrial Flutter, or with a past history of afflictions such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
  • Frequently, doctors will prescribe cholesterol and lipid lowering drugs, such as a Statin, to lower cholesterol and lower the inflammation that is caused by the build-up of atherosclerosis in the blood vessels.
  • Finally, if you have high blood pressure, your doctor will prescribe medication to lower it. There are many different kinds of anti-hypertensive medications.

Cardiac Medical unit reopens after facelift

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Earlier this fall, TMC closed down Unit 500, Cardiac Medical, to give it a makeover.  Over the years, the hospital has been closing one unit at a time in order to update them.

Patients began occupying the unit on Monday.

“The patients have expressed their gratitude and everyone loves the work that’s been done,” said unit manager, Joyce Drozd. “It’s very exciting. The place still has that ‘new car’ smell; it’s all shiny and new.”

The work includes new flooring,  repainted and textured walls, renovated bathrooms, updated lighting and more. For the staff, new space was carved out of storage areas, the lounge was enlarged and a consultation room was included for doctors to speak with family.

And at the top of the walls visitors will see a stylized TMC heart, artwork of the TMC CardioVascular service line, spaced out every 10 feet. As a cardiac unit patients may be just getting back on their feet,  so staff wanted an easy way to measure a patient’s progress and to make sure they don’t overdo it.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461